Astronomy and Literature in the Humanistic Culture of the XVth and XVIth centuries

Subproject by Johanna Biank

This sub-project deals with the transfer and transformation of ancient astronomical knowledge in the Early Modern Period. On the basis of the CRC 980 thesis, that transfer processes always generate new knowledge, I intend to investigate the manner in which spherical astronomy was reshaped and classical astronomical sources were reassessed during the Renaissance, due to novel intellectual challenges, especially in the context of the humanistic culture. In particular, I am working on the 15th and 16th-centuries reception of pseudo-Proclus’s introduction to astronomy, Σφαῖρα or Sphaera. My thesis is that in the Renaissance this introductory work represented the humanistic counterpart to Sacrobosco’s introductory textbook, the more so since it was generally regarded as a neo-Platonic source. In order to establish the impact and the interpretation of pseudo-Proclus’s Sphaera on Renaissance culture, a broad investigation shall be accomplished concerning the astronomical culture of that age, the circulation of literary sources relevant for astronomy (such as Aratus, Manilius, and Hyginus) as well as the relation between the humanistic movement and scholasticism.